With so many column inches dedicated to the guard of honour, the real story here was the dismantling of the champions’ safe haven: their system as the star.
When small dents appear and a juggernaut is primed to exploit it, you get the kind of mistakes that coloured Liverpool’s collapse.
Thursday night’s contest between teams considered the current cream of Europe didn’t disappoint in terms of quality or endeavour. It also, against expectation, reduced a side that has walked the league to ridicule.
Jokes streamed in, largely centring around Liverpool still being on the lash and there were so many snapshots that acted as a punchline.
When Sadio Mane somehow stumbled over the ball instead of striking it in from 15 yards on 54 minutes, it seemed like the game was already spent.
City were already 3-0 up and the ones most likely to further affect the scoreline.
Interestingly, the opening 20 minutes were well matched, with the obvious chink on the pitch shaping up to be City’s rearguard. Virgil van Dijk hit laser-like long balls for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, which caused chaos and uncertainty in the hosts’ defence.
Liverpool, though, had no decisiveness in the final third. They wasted early opportunities and then, quite atypically, looked washed in their decision-making.
Despite Jordan Henderson shouting ‘no foul, no foul, no foul’ to Joe Gomez as Raheem Sterling tussled to get past him, the centre-back held on to the attacker for far too long. That invited referee Anthony Taylor to point to the spot and Kevin De Bruyne, the game’s standout player, duly slotted it.
Liverpool had tried to shake off that setback, but City were in an unforgiving mood. Gini Wijnaldum gave the ball away while trying to find Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Sterling sparking a counter that saw Phil Foden toy with Andy Roberston. The left-back dived in, leaving space behind him for City to expose and De Bruyne used for his decoy run.
The move ended with Sterling sidefooting past Alisson in a stanza where Liverpool did everything wrong.
The intensity and ambition of Klopp’s men were sapped soon after and ushered in several more maddening moments.
Robertson morphed into a headless chicken again, running into a challenge he couldn’t win with Foden. The young midfielder played a delightful one-two with De Bruyne, before crowning the play with a superb finish.
Liverpool moved forward and messed things up with City darting them. They turned the most accomplished defence in the league to training dummies.
Liverpool were opened up so easily and ruthlessly. De Bruyne slipped in Sterling, who sidestepped Robertson and slotted a low shot past Alisson that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tried to clear.
To sum up the evening for the champions, he could only help it into the net – and the initial effort was going wide anyway.
The consolation, if it could be called that, was that a Riyad Mahrez goal at the death was ruled out by VAR.
An off-night brought with it an welcome stat: Liverpool have gone five successive away fixtures in all competitions without scoring for the first time since Graeme Souness was in charge in 1992.
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